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October 2, 2019

Secretary’s Report

NFC Coutances Old Hens/Young Bird Nationals flown 7th September

After a very mixed racing season which is fast becoming the norm in our Sport, we arrived at the final National race from Coutances with the Old Hens event flown in conjuncture with the Young Birds. In the last few seasons Sportsman members have put up some excellent performances in both categories and whilst we were expecting a decent turnout of old hens the young bird entries were thought to be problematical. This was because of heavy losses experienced across the North East both in training and early races. Plenty of, so called experts have vocalised their opinions for these losses which is not simply a UK phenomenon but Europe wide. I will refrain from adding fuel to the fire except to say start looking outside the box at your approach to young bird racing” otherwise get used to more of the same probably worse. Climate Change will only bring further erratic weather conditions and the Peregrine issue is not going away.

As usual the Section N birds were race marked on the Wednesday night at Toft Hill with everyone happy to play their part and get the job done quickly and smoothly. Next morning myself and Tom Cuthbertson left North East at 5.30am and drove the 120 miles down to Sheffield where the crates were transferred to the NFC Transporter.

Old Hens

8 members who would be flying between 350 and 410 miles entered 35 birds in the race. Despite the lateness of the race the birds were all in good feather and expectations were high for a decent show.

Young Birds

As anticipated the turnout was low with 3 lofts mustering 30 youngsters between them. They were all in excellent fettle as you would expect for this very challenging race.

When Saturday morning came we expected an early liberation albeit the north westerly winds forecast would make it a testing challenge. As the day progressed and the early times appeared on the NFC website our members were encouraged by some of the brave performances being achieved by Yorkshire lofts. However, it was not until early evening when word filtered through that Brian Wiemer & Son at Hartlepool had timed their 6year old Grizzle hen at 19.31 pm recording a velocity of 914 ypm to take 1st Sportsman and Section N for their second Section win of the season. This bird eventually ended up 94th Open a very brave effort given the race conditions and having spent an extra night in the basket compared to their competitors.

Mr & Mrs Allan Walker at Stockton timed a brave yearling in the dark at 8.12 pm to grab 2nd Sportsman & Section. This young hen should have a bright future in front of her building on this effort.

Next morning there was a trickle of birds arriving with McSween & Sexton at Sunderland taking 3rd club and Brian Wiemer, timing 3 more birds to take 4th, 5th and 7th club rounding off a really good performance from his team of 8 entries. Bob Mckie grabbed the 6th spot.

It was not until 11.26 am on the second morning that Dave McSween & Jim Sexton timed the first of 2 young birds doing 651.75 ypm with their second bird timed at 6.30pm. Raced on the Dark their youngsters win 1st & 2nd Sportsman & Section N. and were the only birds recorded in race time which simply highlights how tough an event this was. Their family of birds are bred down from Wearside Lass & Lionheart, two UNC Bourges greats. They are no strangers to success when tackling this distance with youngbirds. This years winner is from the section winner of the same race three years ago & their second bird is from last years section winner.

Vanrobaey Sponsorship

Brian Wiemer and Mcsween and Sexton win the sponsorship prizes of Vanrobaey feed and a range of their excellent products. On behalf of our members I wish to say a big thank you to Vanrobaeys for their continued support of the Sportsman which is much appreciated.

Sportsman Presentation Evening

This will take place at the club’s HQ on Wednesday the 23rd October. Doors open at 7 for an 8 pm kick off. Our main guest this year is Peter Virtue from Cockburnspath. There will be free buffet prepared by our host Belle whom always does us proud. So, if you are interested in distance racing why not come along and enjoy a great night with likeminded enthusiasts-all are welcome. If you need more information just give us a call.

August 16, 2019

Secretary’s Report

Toft Hill-Sigogne National

Firstly, a brief word about the Tarbes 2019 race when only 2 Sportsman members Jim Nicholson and Tom Cuthbertson were brave enough to send 4 birds to this extreme distance event of over 800 miles. Unfortunately, there were no birds home in race time although Tom, had his solo entry arrive shortly after the race had closed. His hope is that this 2year old hen will have gained much from the experience and she will now have a long rest and be prepared for another go in 2020. We all wish you the best of luck with this plan Tom.

Next up was the Sigogne National scheduled for the 20th July. At race marking on Wednesday the 17th there was a decent turnout with 10 members sending 37 birds for a race of between 600 and 640 miles. However, when it came to Saturday the liberation was put back 24 hours due to inclement weather. Sunday morning arrived to a much improving weather picture and the news that birds were up at 6 am into a light North wind changing to a South on route was welcomed. Speculation was that we may see birds into the North East on the 14 hours flying mark depending the strength of South in the wind and where it kicked in. Unfortunately, this did not work out as hoped for the Sportsman members with no birds recorded on the first day. So, with everything to play for it was another early Monday morning at the lofts for our members. I was there just after 4.30am making ready and at 5am I turned my young bird team out as normal. They were soon working up and down the Derwent Valley returning some 40 minutes later when I noticed a pigeon coming from the East join the batch. Eventually Dark21 a 2year old of John Halstead bloodlines pulled out the batch and dropped onto the loft, quickly entering the traps timed at 5.51am to win the Sportsman and 4TH Section N. As a yearling and again this year he flew Messac (456 miles) as a warmup for Sigogne where he was sent sitting 5 days on eggs. A couple of hours later I glimpsed another bird racing hard from the East and it wasted no time in entering the traps to be timed at 8.20am. This was Dark63 a 3year old Brugemann from the best of Dave Impett blood and ended up 2nd Sportsman and 6th Section. In 2018 Dark 63 was 3rd Sportsman 7th Section N Coutances in his only race then put to one side for 2019. Trained to 250 miles this year he went to Sigogne feeding a large baby which was his pride and joy. Flying 640 miles (longest flying birds timed in the National) they recorded velocities of 1142 & 992 ypm respectively.

The race team are fed on Vanrobaey No’s 39 & 35 which keeps them in tip top condition for the longer races.

Taking 3rd Sportsman was the consistent partnership of McSween & Sexton from Sunderland with a 2year old Cheq. Cock recording a velocity of 799ypm. And in 4th place came Mr & Mrs Walker from Stockton with a 2year old Blue Cock recording a velocity of 781ypm.

I timed a Red hen early 3rd morning to grab the 5th place. This hen flew Sigogne last season ending 6th Sportsman and has now gone one better. Bred by my friend Alan Astin of Carnforth she had been trained to 200 miles and was lifted into the race sitting 5day eggs.

Birds continued to return on the 3rd day with Barry Blackett and Brian Wiemer & Son both recording arrivals. Brian Weimer, from Hartlepool, was a tad unlucky his 6year old hen was reported by a fancier in Whitby the second day. After a rest, light feed and water it was released the same day and eventually made it home around midday on day 3 taking 6th Sportsman.

Vanrobaey Sponsorship

For the 2nd race running Bob McKie claimed the Vanrobaey sponsorship prizes of corn and a great range of grit and supplements.

2019 NFC Racing

Reflecting on the old bird season we cannot under-estimate the damage caused by the poor outcome at the Fougeres event. It really destroyed the National season hopes of many and there was no bounce back. Entry numbers in subsequent races suffered however our members rallied and some notable performances were achieved. We now move on to the Old Hens/Young Bird Coutances National in early September and are hoping for a good event with good returns to finish off a rather mixed and disappointing National racing season.

On behalf of all our club members I wish you much success in the final NFC race of the season.

July 10, 2019

Secretary’s Report

NFC Cholet National flown 15/6/19

It was a quiet Marking Station at Toft Hill on Wednesday the 12th when members arrived for race marking of their entries. We made a prompt start at 5.30pm and the crates were loaded onto the van and away to Sheffield by 7 pm. Our members were flying between 500 and 553 miles in this event so not one for the feint hearted. Still licking their wounds from the first 2 nationals 12 members mustered 36 birds for the race with an even spread of cocks and hens. There was every possibility that the birds would be liberated on the Saturday although we knew with heavy showers forecast in the North later in the day it could be difficult.

Before members left the marking station Jim Sexton and I provided a detailed report back of the NFC Inquiry meeting held on the 5th June which we both attended. We felt the inquiry had turned all the stones which resulted in a very positive outcome with new liberation arrangements being unanimously agreed by the committee. The Chairman kept a tight control of the meeting ensuring everybody was given the opportunity to contribute to the debate which was challenging and constructive. Stu Wilcox re-enforced the message that members were looking for progress and it was important that the committee recognised this.

Moving on to Saturday the race day. When checking out the various weather sites it was generally accepted that an early liberation was on the cards. And when word came through that they had been liberated at 7am everyone had their thinking caps calculating the ETA. As early times began filtering through there was real optimism that after a seemingly good liberation we would see decent times in Section N and I calculated arrivals could be expected between 7 and 8 pm. However, by late afternoon heavy showers were the order of the day across Yorkshire an into the North East which did put a damper on expectations. Still our members were at their lofts in good time and when word came through at 6 pm that Craig Thompson at Seaton Delaval had timed around 4.30pm it looked like a stormer. We later learnt this had not been accurate in fact it was a system test case flagged on the NFC website which had led to a misunderstanding. Sorry for any embarrassment Craig — you’ll have the last laugh one day! This meant everything was still to play for and just before 6.45pm when speaking to our Chairman on my mobile I caught sight of 3 birds in the distance coming from the east at pace. 2 of these pulled off and flew due west whilst the 3rd kept coming towards my loft and I knew it was my 5year old Chequer cock K/A TIMBA he dropped on top of the loft before entering and being clocked. Although his wattles showed signs of coming through heavy rain he was fine and quickly into his nest box to see his 16day old baby. Flying 544 miles he recorded a velocity of 1357 ypm to win the Sportsman and 1st Section N & 628th Open.

Timba is a 2014 latebred his Sire is from the best of Brian Denny blood (via Alan Astin of Carnforth) the Dam is a Jan Arden bred by Peter Virtue of Cockburnspath. Trained as a yearling to 250 miles he has now had 5 races:

  • 2016 2nd Sportsman 4th Section N 942nd Open Ancenis (523 miles)
  • 2017 4th Sportsman 5th Section N 312th Open Messac (490 miles)
  • 2017 4th Sportsman 8th Section 895th Open Fougeres (456 miles)
  • 2018 2nd Sportsman 2nd Section 899th Open Ancenis (523 miles)

And this year he was prepared specifically for Cholet flying natural and given plenty of short training flights up to 50 miles. 3 weeks prior to the race date he had a 200 miles training flight from where he arrived 10 minutes ahead of his nearest loft mate. A very quiet individual he was fed on Vanrobaeys No 39 & 35 which was topped off with peanuts in the week prior to marking.

Second Sportsman was Jeff Walton and his son Matthew, who does a great job in maintaining our club website. Flying 530 miles they timed a 3year old Chequer hen, 320, at 19.24 doing 1253 ypm being bred from the best of Peter Virtue bloodlines. Her sire is a grandson of Peter’s 1st Nat from Reims Virtue’s Pride. Her dam is a granddaughter of Jos Thone’ 1st Nat Barcelona winner Poco, She was bred by Brian Long from a Son of Musa, 5 x Barcelona & a daughter of Poco. 320 went to the race feeding a six day old YB. In 2018 she was 1st Section N 797th Open Ancenis(509 miles)

In 3rd place it was Bob Mckie again with a 2year old Chequer hen at 20.10pm. Bred by Alan Astin of Carnforth she contains the best of Ken Hines blood and this was her first race having been trained to 250 miles as a yearling and again this season. Sent sitting 24 days she was exceptionally keen and in tip top condition on her return.

These were the only day birds recorded in the club also winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd Section N.

Next morning, there was a trickle of birds timed in with the consisted loft of Barrie Blackett timing 3 birds the first being 4th Sportsman in the process. Jeff Walton timed a second bird to grab 5th club with Barrie Blackett in 6th position.

Next came Tom Cuthbertson and Partner with their excellent 5year old Dark hen which already has 2 x 1st in the Sportsman to her credit. On basketing night this hen was dancing indeed when you saw her in the crate you would have thought it was a cock the way she was showing up to all the other hens. New members Craig Thompson and Dean Ward both timed in on the second day.


The Vanrobaey Sponsorship prizes were won by Bob Mckie along with the £100 Paul Stobbs kindly donated to the winner of the race.

Best of luck to everyone and their birds brave enough to tackle Tarbes.

Bob Mckie/Jeff Walton

June 30, 2019

Secretary’s Report

NFC Messac National flown Saturday 1st June

It was a depleted group of members who attended Toft Hill marking station on Wednesday 29th May. In total 12 had entered 81 birds with many still licking their wounds from Fougeres. As we all know there is nothing certain in pigeon racing and flying nationals into the North East is no different. You must ensure that your charges are well prepared and hope that the prevailing winds are favourable. We certainly need some luck on our side for Section N birds to figure in the top end of the result. The weather forecast to hand on Wednesday gave our members much room for optimism and another chance to dream.

Flying between 450 and 500 miles from Messac meant it would still be a tough gig for our birds after a minimum of 3 nights in the basket. Experience has shown however that with the quality of NFC transporters, returning birds are invariably in good condition and fast to recover even after several nights in the crates.

When word came through that the birds were up on the Saturday morning at 7.15am expectations and excitement remained high. As the day progressed times coming in from other organisations indicated that birds liberated in the UK at various race points were doing fast times albeit returns were gappy. Around midday in the North East there was much heavy dark cloud and a few spots of rain but it remained warm with decent visibility. The prevailing wind was for the most part a fresh South Westerly so it was not unrealistic to anticipate that the leading birds would touch the 1500 ypm. When the early times in the South/South West started to trickle through it simply re-enforced the chance of fast birds elsewhere in the country although they may be few and far between. And this is exactly the case and what a race it ended up being for our club member Brian Wiemer and Grandson in Hartlepool flying 475 miles. They timed in 3 excellent birds doing 1507,1417 & 1347 ypm simply top flying and what a way to break their duck in the Sportsman. Their first bird a 3year old cock wins 1st Club & Section N and 107TH Open with 4043 birds entered. They also take 3rd and 4th Sportsman & Section with their 3rd bird winning our club show race and picking up £240 for good measure. Brian flies a free and easy style and his Van Wiemers” have certainly responded well.

Splitting Brian’s birds and grabbing 2nd Sportsman & Section N was the loft of Brian Hopper & Son at sunny Greenside flying 492 miles. Having moved loft location last season these lads are flying broken birds so another cracking performance.

Taking 5th & 10th Club & Section was season’s top prize winners Dave Mcsween & Jim Sexton at Sunderland, flying 487 miles doing 1289 ypm. These lads are past winners of the UNC and always hard to beat and have a tremendous team of distance pigeons which they have cultivated over several years. Tom Williams, down in Kent flies their bloodlines and he is really doing some damage with a small team of widowhood cocks. He has scored well in every BICC race this season and is the provisional winner of Section ES and 20th Open Cholet from 2859 birds on Sunday the 9th June. The winner is steeped in winning Up North Combine bloodlines from Dave & Jim.

In 6th place with another of his super team of yearlings comes Barrie Blackett at Butterknowle, Co Durham, doing 1252 ypm from 470 miles. Barrie will openly tell you that he has developed his own chaos” system and the birds are fed on local farm beans, peas, wheat and barley. His timer was a sweat little Mealy hen from a blend of his Scottish bloodlines and was well fancied. She will take the second prize of £110 and £21 pools in the club show race. Barrie had another couple of birds on the clock when opened.

Several other lofts also timed including Jeff Walton & Son, Bob Mckie, Mr & Mrs Walker, John & Stephen Best (picking up £60 pools from the show race) and Tom Cuthbertson and his partner.

Vanrobaey Sponsorship

Brian Wiemer also picked up wins the Vanrobaey Feeds sponsorship prizes of Corn and a range of their top Pigeon Supplements.

Next up it’s the Cholet National and this will be another real test with members flying between 500 and 550 miles. When we marked on Wednesday the 12th June 11 members entered a total of 36 birds. Best of luck to everyone in the NFC competing.

Sportsman Prize Presentation

Would all members and supporters of the club please note their diaries that the Payout will take place at our HQ on Wednesday the 23rd October 2019.

Chief guest and making the long journey down from across the Scottish Borders will be Peter Virtue who needs no introduction to our members.

NFC Inquiry Meeting held 5th June

Jim Sexton and I made the long journey down to Alverley for the Inquiry Meeting (13 hour day for us).

Chris Sutton has already issued a briefing note on the meeting. And I would just like to say that there was much constructive and challenging debate. The Chairman Paul Naum kept the meeting focused and gave every official the opportunity to contribute before the new process and those involved were agreed. Both Jim and I were impressed with the genuine concerns from all officials that the NFC must do better to improve race management procedures as well as maintaining the standards of our bird’s welfare. In this respect we were also confident that having listened to Dom McKoy our Convoyer our birds were in safe hands.

However there is no room for complacency and we should not forget the untold damage BOP can cause along with the unprecedented impact of Climate Change on weather conditions.

Bob Mckie/Jeff Walton

June 2, 2019

Secretary’s Report

Fougeres National flown 19th May

Firstly can I offer congratulations to Phil Priddle on his Open victory and all other lofts that won their Section. I would also like to say a big well done to Mr Woods of Barnsley who is standing 8th Open in the provisional result flying 364 miles. Some achievement on such a tough race day.

Generally though the race outcome will long be remembered for the wrong reasons and could have a major impact on the NFC entry levels as the season progresses. Certainly up here in the North East race entries will be affected as 5 days after the event returns are still only around the 20% mark.

When members attended the Toft Hill marking station on Wednesday the 15th for race marking expectations were high and there was much excitement and anticipation about the race among our members who were flying between 420 and 465 miles. Some of our new members were in attendance and everyone pitched in and gave a hand to ensure marking went smoothly which generally was the case with only minor mishap. (I had to refuse a couple of entries because ETS ring details were not correctly synchronised and would require corrective action-something we decline to do on marking night.) We also checked that all birds were correctly wing stamped or carrying address rings as per RPRA rule 121. In the end we marked 113 birds (127 entered) from 18 members which was most disappointing given we have over 40 paid up members. I would like to thank everyone for their support with the marking it does make my job a lot easier.

Once marking finished the crates were quickly loaded and transported on the night to Sheffield where they were safely transferred to the NFC Transporter. Marking on a Wednesday means a minimum of 3 nights in the crates for the birds. We now know that the birds were liberated on the Sunday at 7.45am with inclement weather having caused the holdover. From the weather information available it looked to me like Tuesday would be the earliest we would get a race. It was much to everyone’s surprise when the message came through that the birds had been liberated at 7.45am on the Sunday. The website indicated that the birds had a good start and all cleared within 2 minutes. During the course of the day and because of some unprecedented weather a disappointing race evolved with poor returns across the whole country. Watching the early arrival times on the NFC website it soon became obvious that North East birds were in for an exceptionally difficult time of it. So much so that we saw nothing timed in the club on the day of release.

However after an anxious wait a brave little yearling hen was timed by Barrie Blackett flying 435 miles into Butterknowle in the west of Co Durham. He wins the Sportsman doing 723 ypm and her brother, a yearling cock was 2nd club timed at 9.47 am doing 696 ypm. Barrie is no stranger to the winners table as in recent years his birds have performed consistently at local and national level. And to top it all this was his first win using his new IPigeon ETS. However at clocks on the Monday night he still only had 2/10 in the loft.

In 3rd place came Mr & Mrs Allan Walker from Stockton. They timed a 3year old Cheq. Cock flying 430 miles doing 689 ypm. This was a good start to the national season for Allan and Carol making up for the disappointment of Middlesbrough FC missing out on promotion! Then in 4th place came the partnership of Ian & Lyn Carter from Middlesbrough who timed at 9.54 am flying 429 miles doing 683ypm. A brave effort from one of their 2year old Blue cocks. They also had a second bird at 14.08pm.

Next in the frame taking 5th place were John & Stephen Best in Stockton who timed a very consistent 4 year old Blue cock doing 678 ypm over 431miles. John was extremely upset about the race outcome as this was their only bird home from 14 at clocks.

In 6th place at 11.10am came Bob Mckie at Chopwell with Dawson’s Boy a very experienced and reliable 5 years national pigeon. Flying 456 miles his velocity was 654 ypm He will now be made ready for Cholet in just under 4 weeks hence.

At clocks we had 10 birds back in the club from 114 sent. Less than 10% and only a handful making it in the days following.

New member Craig Thompson who races into Seaton Delaval, Northumberland (465 miles) was most unlucky. Called into work early morning on his day off and when the loft was checked just after 1pm 2 of his 4 birds entries had made it back safely but unfortunately the ETS battery was flat. One of the downsides of flying to an allotment garden. However Craig said it would not discourage him from sending again in the near future.


Barrie Blackett wins the Vanrobaey Feeds of Belgium sponsorship prizes of corn and a range of their excellent products. This is the 4th season in a row that they have sponsored our full race programme and it is much appreciated. Many of our members now use their feeds and supplements especially their Premiun Power range developed for extreme distance racing. In addition Barrie, also picked up the £50 sponsorship from Mr & Mrs Harry Crowther of Consett.

Climate Change

I have touched on the issue of Mother Nature in several previous articles and once again this national indicates the severity that changing weather patterns will have on our sport. In my view whilst BOP are problematical Climate Change is by far the biggest and current danger to our sport. We need to ensure that we have clear liberation processes in place. Comprehensive information flows and strong communications between racing organisations/convoyers to help better understand and minimise risks to racing. We need line of flight reports from key locations by fanciers on the ground and especially on the Channel. Animal welfare is of paramount importance and this includes not only the quality of our transporters and their management regimes but the suitability of our crates and capacity levels. All the risks of a changing climate are also staring us in the face including, unprecedented tropical downpours which can be increasingly localised with rapidly changing pace on the one hand and possible extreme temperature levels as experienced in 2018 on the other. All major racing organisations need to be ahead of the curve on this score and ensure our sport can stand up to scrutiny from Animal Welfare groups or we may face unwelcome Regulations being imposed by DEFRA. The time for ACTION is now and I hope the NFC has the vision and foresights to take the lead.

Messac National

By the time this article is published we will have moved on the next national. Let’s hope for a better race and we wish you all successful racing.

Bob Mckie

April 19, 2019

Sportsman Phone-in Sale

Our Sportsman phone-in sale proved to be another great success. Our members would like to thank all donors and buyers for their support.

April 7, 2019


Today is Sunday the 7th April leaving only 48 Days to basketing night Wednesday 15th May for the Fougeres National.

Race Sponsors: Vanrobaey Feeds (Belgium)

Mr & Mrs Crowther (Consett) who have donated £50 to winner of the race.

Basketing at Toft Hill is from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm. Please get there early and give a hand with marking. We are looking to have the transport van loaded and away to Sheffield no later than 7.15pm.

Race entries must be with the NFC Secretary no later than Monday 13th May. Check your handbook for more details but remember you can book on line or by post but don’t leave it to the last minute. Best to do this early in case you encounter any problems especially as it is the first National of the season and the IT System and User skills may be a bit rusty!!

Also members must bring fully completed Part B forms with you to marking which I will check-off before marking of your birds is authorised. And make sure where using ETS systems that any previous race has been killed-off.

If you have any questions or concerns just give me a call on M. 07828961442

Bob Mckie


February 16, 2019

Secretary’s Report


On the 30th January all roads led to Toft Hill for the Sportsman FC. Annual General meeting. In October this year we will celebrate our 10th Anniversary during which time we have made brilliant progress year on year in the NFC. We now have own North East Section (N) and marking station at Toft Hill financed by the Sportsman club and every year have seen stronger performances being posted. However above all it is the wonderful friendships we have built up with fellow national fanciers across the UK who have unselfishly supported our club. The list is too long to thank all of these fanciers individually suffice to say they embrace the real positive aspects of our sport.

The poor weather did not prevent another excellent AGM turn out which is a credit to our members who have an average journey of over 25 miles to reach Toft Hill. After a short General Meeting where we had one resignation and several new applicants (the club membership is now 47) we moved quickly into the AGM. Officials for 2019 confirmed as Chairman, Jeff Walton, Secretary/Treasurer, Bob Mckie. The Balance sheet was unanimously accepted with the club in a strong financial position. No changes to club rules were required. Annual club subscriptions remain at £20 per loft. Club Prize monies as 2018 with recognition included for the winner of Averages, Highest Open position achieved and the club Bird of the Year. Negotiations with Sponsors are also ongoing.

As in 2018 we will be ferrying the birds down to Sheffield to meet up with the NFC transporter. Arrangements will be finalised before the end of April which will include club members accompanying the birds. Clock Committee arrangements as 2018 where the use of our Group text operated by the Chairman has proved so successful. (Thanks Jeff).

Annual Young Bird Sale

The club will again run a telephone young bird Sale in April which Jeff Walton will lead on. Several excellent youngsters have already been pledged so watch out for our advert in the weekly Pigeon Press. There are always top quality stock available at competitive prices.

2019 Show Race

Gary Heslington, outlined the arrangements for the show. It will be held at Toft Hill on Saturday the 16th February. Race point Messac National with penning between 11.00 to 12 noon. Entry fee £5 per bird (all paid out) limited to maximum of 2 cocks/2 hens per loft. Race prize split 60/40% with £100 added prize money. There will be a single £10 nomination, winner take all. BIS/BOS prizes of £25.

Show Judge, Kevin Winter, from Sunderland.

Finally our Annual presentation will be held on the 24th October and our next General Meeting will be on 20th March.

What is ahead for Racing in 2019

It is that time of the year when fanciers are conjuring up many thoughts of the racing ahead. For the predominantly sprint minded fancier their plans will be in full swing. Many will be paired and some will already have their 1st round of babies separated. This however is not the preferred approach for many distance/extreme distance fanciers whose target National races don’t take place until late May, June and July. Nevertheless you have to be on top of things and there is always something to do around the lofts preparing your charges. Personally I will shortly have to think about changing the birds over from their winter feeding regime to their regular breeding mix. All birds including stock were vaccinated early December and will be out every day weather permitting from early February. To be fair the weather has been very kind to us in the North East and some of my own hens are already acting quite amorous. Weather permitting I will start pairing stock birds up in the next couple of weeks and the race team from early March.

Whether your preference is sprint or Distance racing 2019 appears to be more unpredictable than ever before. With no sign of any Brexit breakthrough we must remain positive and assume that the National racing programme will go forward as scheduled. The elephant in the room is without question Climate Change.

I believe this will be the biggest challenge facing our sport in coming years. Yes the BOP problem is problematical in many areas but the dynamics of Mother Nature should not be underestimated. Extreme heat, atmospheric disturbances and tropical downpours are set to test our metal with 2018 giving us a taste of what could be around the corner. Remember that on days when weather conditions appeared to be perfect for racing many birds failed to make it home with erratic returns being more and more the norm. I ask the question how many fanciers have really exercised their mind about team management as the sport evolves in a changing climate environment. Is your approach to breeding and training still fit for purpose or do you simply continue to apply old dated and tired routines.

I sincerely believe we need to be smarter and smell the coffee otherwise results will suffer and I suspect losses will hit new levels.

Race Controller/Convoyer Roles

I do not envy those who take on these responsibilities and would urge all organisations, Amalgamations, Combines and National clubs to give due care and diligence to the decision making process to all races but especially from across the Channel. Current weather forecasting techniques and the use of high tech equipment provide much more information than in years past, still there is scope for the process of telephone contacts on the line of flight and especially along the full channel coast line from East to West. Many years ago the great National fancier Jim Biss urged the NFC to develop this approach because channel conditions not least the formation and movement of fog banks were so problematical. Also if we see the extreme temperatures repeated in coming seasons Convoyers should not hesitate to consider mid-afternoon liberations. I accept this will force all birds to spend a night out but heavy losses at distance events is bound to attract bad publicity under the banner of animal welfare which we must avoid at all costs.

North East Central Route FC

Finally we wanted to mention this new club at Ferryhill which will start racing in 2019. There are a number of fanciers hesitating about joining the National scene because of a fear that losses will be heavy. Well here is a club which will be racing down the centre of the country providing an excellent chance to give your birds valuable experience on a flight path more in tune with the NFC race programme. This club will be holding a top quality youngbird sale in the coming weeks which will be in the fancy press to raise funds to purchase race baskets/crates. Definitely a sale to watch out for. For more information ring John on 07955392127 or Jeff on 07966495952

November 6, 2018

National Flying Club at NEHU Show

Just a quick update about the 3rd November when I attended the NEHU Annual Show promoting National racing and raising awareness about the challenges and benefits of joining the NFC.

Arriving early I quickly had our stand and Banners in place in a great spot opposite the Racing Pigeon and Boddy & Ridewood before the doors opened at 10 am. There was a steady stream of fanciers coming through the doors with a good flow both old and new dropping by our stand to seek information and pass comment about the 2018 racing season. I handed out numerous NFC application forms. There was much interest and comment about the National scene however there remains a strong fancier loyalty to the UNC the main objective being to win Bourges. This is a commendable aspiration despite recent racing data analysis pointing to deterioration in results similar to the experience of other organisations.

Let’s hope future returns improve and at the same time we see a more lofts picking up the gauntlet and trying the National racing scene where despite some tough races returns into the North East improve year on year.

As to the show itself I had little opportunity to look around but did manage a chat with James Parker and Ian Stafford on the JPS Stand where trade was very brisk. James had an excellent year racing with the NFC. But what can you say about the partnership of Stafford and Wilson who fly in the UNC and existing members of the Sportsman. Their race results in 2018 were absolutely brilliant. Ian is fully committed to flying with us in the Nationals in the near future which will be great and interesting to see how his birds perform.

That’s all for now and thanks to all the members who stopped by for a chat,

Bob Mckie

November 5, 2018

Sportsman FC (NFC) Prize Presentation Evening

Well the 17th October has come and gone and another great night at the Sportsman to mark the end of a most testing season.

The doors opened at 7pm and by the time we kicked off with the presentation it was standing room only.

Our Chairman Jeff Walton, got things underway by welcoming everyone for coming along to share the evening with us. He introduced our main guests Barry and Peter Winter who had made the journey up from Howden, East Yorkshire. There was also a special mention for our friends from the SNRPC who made the long journey down to be with us.

Jeff went on to thank our sponsors Vanrobaey Feeds and Terry Knox for their continued support, the Gaskill family and Paul Stobbs of Stonehaven Lofts along with the many fanciers who donate and bid at our Annual Young Bird Sales. And the Best family for their transporting of birds to Sheffield and to Charlie Smith, for providing the use of his Transit Van whenever we needed it. Also to our hosts John and Belle who always offer us a warm welcome.

Barry and Peter were then invited forward to present the prizes.

First up to the table was new member Alf Fellows from Ferryhill who was dipping his toe into National racing for the first time gaining a 5th Club 9th Section N Coutances.

Next came Brian Wiemer & Grandson from Hartlepool who were 4th Coutances Oldhens.

Then it was M/M Allan Walker from Stockton who won 5th Messac and 5th Coutances YB.

Experienced Channel flier Brian Caley from Framwellgate Moor was next with a 3rd Club & Section N, in a very tough Messac National.

The excellent loft of John & Stephen Best from Stockton stepped forward next after winning 2nd Club Messac and 3rd Club Sigogne. The cock that came out of Sigogne was an old favourite of John’s and before the race he expressed every confidence in this bird.

Then it was the turn of our hard working ETS expert Barrie Blackett to step forward. Barrie who flies into the village of Butterknowle is a previous Queens Cup winner who has developed a strong family of National birds and is always in the mix when the going is tough. A very studious fancier Barrie is not afraid to try something different and every bird has to earn its perch, the basket being the master.

The small team partnership of Tom Cuthbertson & Derek McWilliam from Willington, were next up with an excellent win in the Old Hens National from Coutances with their 4 year old Dark Cheq Busschaert hen called CC. It won 1st club, 1st Section N and 173rd Open. Adding to the excellent 1st Sportsman & 6th Section N from Messac which it won in 2017. Top performance.

We then had the fast improving partnership of Malcolm, Heslington & Jones, from Wingate step up to collect their awards. They kicked off their season in great style taking 1st & 2nd Club 5th & 6th Section N Coutances. Followed by 4th club & 5th Section Ancenis as well as a 4th Club & Section N, Coutances Young Bird National. It is important to mention that their Coutances winner is quite special, known as The Quiet Woman, she was also their first bird from Ancenis and a few weeks later won the North East Greater Distance club race from Le Mans. This 5 year old hen has been nursed by the partnership and really rewarded their patience this season-well done.

Club Secretary, Bob Mckie, from Blackhall Mill, was next to come forward after winning 3rd club 7th Section N Coutances, 6th club Messac, 2nd 3rd & 6th club 2nd 3rd & 11th Section N Ancenis, then 1st 4th & 6th club and 4th Section N, Sigogne (639 miles and the longest flier in the Open). The Chequer cock which won Sigogne having been 3rd Ancenis 5 weeks earlier. (525 miles)

It was then the turn of Chairman Jeff Walton from Coxhoe, to step up to the table. Flying only a capful of birds Jeff flying in partnership with his son Matthew had a great year winning 1st & 4th club 1st & 4th Section N Messac. Following this up with 1st club 1st Section N Ancenis taking the £100 sponsorship prize kindly donated by Paul Stobbs. In the Coutances Old Hens race the partnership grabbed 3rd & 5th club and Section N. Mrs Hazel Gaskill was asked to step forward and present Jeff with the late George Gasgill Memorial Trophy. (George being the driving force in establishing the club in late 2009.)

Dave McSween & Jim Sexton of Sunderland then came forward as our main prize winners receiving a great round of applause. They scored 4th club 8th Section N Coutances National. 2nd club & Section N in the Coutances Old Hens race and a brilliant 1st 2nd & 3rd club and Section N, 227th Open in the Coutances Young bird race (flying 75 miles further than all the birds above them in the result.) They ended up as the 2018 Average winners for good measure.

Finally for the first time the club had a competition in 2018 to recognise the best performing bird in the current season.

The overall winners were Jeff and Matthew Walton with their an outstanding 3 year old Chequer hen which won 1st club 1st Section Messac, 14th club 22nd Section Coutances and 3rd club & Section Coutances Old Hens race.

Runners up being the loft of McSween & Sexton with their Young Bird national winner Red 52.

Following the presentation our hosts laid out an excellent buffet which was very well received, there then followed a small sale of birds presented by this seasons club winners as well a generous gift of a proven stockbird from ex Sportsman member & good friend Peter Brunskill of Toft Hill. Our main guests Barry & Peter Winter brought a late bred youngster for the sale which was much appreciated. Our resident auctioneer Gary Heslington did an excellent job in extracting every last pound from the buyers. Thanks Gary it was all good fun an excellent performance on your part.

The club members would just like to thank Jeff Walton who once again generously provided a framed photograph for all race winners to their proud owners.

Also to Vanrobaey Feeds & Terry Knox for their continued support and generous race sponsorship whereby each race winners received 2 bags of corn and a range of excellent Vanrobaey products. It is very much appreciated.

The list of our supporters is extensive and we thank them all and in particular the staff at both the British Homing World and Racing Pigeon for their excellent presentation of our articles throughout the year.

National racing now has a firm hold in the North East, hopefully this will continue to grow whether you fly independently or as members of the Sportsman the challenge of extreme/distance racing is enormous but the success can be so rewarding. You only have to look at some of the performances by our club members and the independent fliers M. Anderson & Sons, John Rumney and Mr & Mrs Brian Hicks to see what is achievable when you put your mind to it. The question is do you have the ability and determination to handle the pressure????

Hope to see you all again next year.

Alf Fellows of Ferryhill receiving his prizes from Barry WinterAlf Fellows of Ferryhill receiving his prizes from Barry Winter

Brian Wiemer & Son of Hartlepool receiving their prizes from Barry WinterBrian Wiemer & Son of Hartlepool receiving their prizes from Barry Winter

Allan Walker of Stockton receiving his prizes from Barry WinterAllan Walker of Stockton receiving his prizes from Barry Winter

Brian Caley of Framwellgate Moor receiving his prizes from Barry WinterBrian Caley of Framwellgate Moor receiving his prizes from Barry Winter

John Best & Son receiving their prizes from Barry WinterJohn Best & Son receiving their prizes from Barry Winter

Barrie Blackett of Butterknowle receiving his prizes from Barry WinterBarrie Blackett of Butterknowle receiving his prizes from Barry Winter

Barry Winter presenting Tom Cuthbertson with their trophies - Cuthbertson & McWilliam of Willington winners of the Coutances Old Hens raceBarry Winter presenting Tom Cuthbertson with their trophies - Cuthbertson & McWilliam of Willington winners of the Coutances Old Hens race

Barry Winter presenting Kevin Jones & Gary Heslington with their trophies - Malcolm Hesligton & Jones of Wingate winners of the Fougeres raceBarry Winter presenting Kevin Jones & Gary Heslington with their trophies - Malcolm Hesligton & Jones of Wingate winners of the Fougeres race

Mrs Hazel Gaskill & granddaughter presenting Jeff Walton & Son of Coxhoe with the George Gaskill Memorial trophy for winning the Ancenis raceMrs Hazel Gaskill & granddaughter presenting Jeff Walton & Son of Coxhoe with the George Gaskill Memorial trophy for winning the Ancenis race

Jeff Walton & Son of Coxhoe winners of the Messac & Ancenis races, Best Performance 2018 & 3rd highest prize winners receiving their prizes from Peter WinterJeff Walton & Son of Coxhoe winners of the Messac & Ancenis races, Best Performance 2018 & 3rd highest prize winners receiving their prizes from Peter Winter

Bob McKie of Blackhall Mill was R_U for the Sportsman FC averages - Bob receiving the Tom Riddle Memorial trophy from Barrie Winter for winning the Sigogne raceBob McKie of Blackhall Mill was R_U for the Sportsman FC averages - Bob receiving the Tom Riddle Memorial trophy from Barrie Winter for winning the Sigogne race

Peter Winter presenting Jim Sexton & Dave McSween of Sunderland with Best Performance of 2018 R_U trophyPeter Winter presenting Jim Sexton & Dave McSween of Sunderland with Best Performance of 2018 R_U trophy

Peter Winter presenting Jim Sexton & Dave McSween with their trophies - McSween & Sexton of Sunderland were highest prizewinners in the Sportsman FC & won Coutances Youngbird race & the Sportsman FC Averages trophy 2018Peter Winter presenting Jim Sexton & Dave McSween with their trophies - McSween & Sexton of Sunderland were highest prizewinners in the Sportsman FC & won Coutances Youngbird race & the Sportsman FC Averages trophy 2018

Guests John McFall Duncan Knox & Peter Virtue from the SNRPCGuests John McFall Duncan Knox & Peter Virtue from the SNRPC

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